Thursday, December 16, 2010

City of Tranquil Light

City of Tranquil Light
Author: Bo Caldwell
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publishing Date: September 28, 2010

Will Kiehn is a simple Midwestern man. Growing up in a farmer’s home it seems inevitable that he will continue to work the land like the generations before him. However, in the early 1900’s God places a call on his heart for the country of China. Answering that call, he leaves all that is familiar he catches a boat and moves to the North China Plain in 1906. In China he meets fellow missionary Katherine, a dedicated nurse with struggling language skills. They fall in love, marry, and dedicate their lives to serving together in China.

The early 1900’s is a time of great turmoil in China. The two-thousand-year-old dynasty is crumbling and the nation plunges into violent civil war. Will and Katherine make their home in Kuang P’ing Ch’eng- City of Tranquil Light. They are well accepted by the people of the city and Katherine’s nursing skills are an open door for many new converts. However, the country is far from safe. Disease threatens the life of their newborn, Will is kidnapped by bandits, and rebel soldiers take the city by storm. In the midst of it all we journey with Will and Katherine and their unending love for each other as they pour out their very lives into the country they have adopted as home.

The depth of this book will captivate you. The story is told alternatively through Will and Katherine’s viewpoints. Will tells the story as an aging widow and we see Katherine’s story through her journal entries. Their love for each other and their dedication for their calling is truly beautiful. Bo Caldwell creatively weaves in portions of her own grandparent’s story as missionaries to China into the novel which adds a wonderful spark of meaning into a book already overflowing with meaning. The historical aspects of China that are revealed through the book are fascinating and not over done. You’ll walk away wanting to know more.

You’ll find yourself completely drawn into Will and Katherine’s story. Like any truly good book you won’t want this one to end. I found myself overwhelmed at the sacrifices the missionaries of old had to make. Many missionaries packed their belongings into coffins because they knew their bodies would only ever return to the place of their birth. Will and Katherine became a part of China and China’s impact on their lives was permanent. I dare say that this book could impact you much the same. In it you’ll find the soft whisper of the Father as he creates his story in the characters but also as he whispers his story to the reader. A story of love, of sacrifice, of a God who transcends cultures to reveal himself to his beloved creation.

Rated: PG- for war violence and drama

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

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